Raising a healthier generation of children through diet and education — that's the focus of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the agency redoubles its efforts during National Nutrition Month, with an increased emphasis on the diets of American youth.
In a blog post on the USDA website, Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, writes, "It is our collective responsibility to ensure the next generation has access to healthier meals."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. The percentage of US children 6 to 11 years old who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012.
Similarly, the percentage of adolescents between 12 and 19 years old who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period.
The USDA is using this opportunity to raise awareness about these issues as part of National Nutrition Month.
In an interview with dailyRx News, Adrien Paczosa, registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist and owner of iLiveWell Nutrition Therapy in Austin, TX, said, "We can help our children by working to reduce an excess calories from fat and sugar and by reducing our kids' intake of processed foods."
Paczosa said getting kids involved in buying and prepping food not only makes nutrition fun, but it also helps children make long-lasting health choices.
"If you keep it entertaining and keep them in the kitchen, your children are more likely to eat the nutritious meals and snacks you are preparing together," she said.
Paczosa suggested yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits for quick after-school snacks.
"Or why not whip up a Ninja Turtle green smoothie packed with bananas, milk, yogurt and spinach which turns the drink green?" she said.
She said parents need to know that whole-grain tortillas are a great go-to item as well.
"These can be used to make everything from a quick, nutritious pizza, to cinnamon snowflake crisps," Paczosa said.
She suggested spreading these tortillas with peanut butter or simply rolling them with some lean ham for quick and easy snack ideas that older children can prepare themselves.
For more healthy snack ideas for kids, check out the dailyRx News feature video.